Clutter-Gate: A Lesson in Panic and Lunacy

Are those the new Vapors? Those are nice.

The things I am sometimes forced to write about, whether out of sheer idiocy or lunacy...Even ESPN keyed in on the "punch heard 'round the world." When ESPN picks up on hockey on Sportscenter, you can bet something stupid happened.

Last night, as all of you hopefully know, Cal Clutterbuck got involved in a tussle with Max Lapierre along the boards late in the third period. At this point, the game was already in hand, the Canucks had lost, and the game crossed from a hockey game to a battle for some sort of face saving honor killing or something. In the mix, Clutterbuck threw a couple of punches, thinking he was aiming for Lapierre. The problem? The connected with Derren Gibbs, the linesman.

My Google Reader and Twitter feed are filled with people asking about the incident, and with fans wondering if Clutterbuck will recieve supplemental discipline.

Video, the rule in play, and discussion... after the jump. Sigh.

The Video

The Rule

Rule 40 - Physical Abuse of Officials

40.1 Game Misconduct - Any player who deliberately applies physical force in any manner against an official, in any manner attempts to injure an official, physically demeans, or deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation shall receive a  game misconduct penalty. In addition, the following (40.2, 40.3, 40.4) disciplinary penalties shall apply.

40.2 Automatic Suspension - Category I - Any player who deliberately strikes an official and causes injury or who deliberately applies physical force in any manner against an official with intent to injure, or who in any manner attempts to injure an official shall be automatically suspended for not less than twenty (20) games. (For the purpose of the rule, "intent to injure" shall mean any physical force which a player or goalkeeper knew or should have known could reasonably be expected to cause injury.)

The Debate

The debate seems to be pretty minimal here, and yet people still are asking if Clutterbuck will be suspended. The answer is pretty simple.

No. He won't. It's not even a question, really. The rule says "deliberately" about a dozen times. This type of rule also follows a sort of pecking order. The refs gave Clutterbuck a ten minute misconduct, not a game misconduct. This means the refs on the ice did not feel it was deliberate. The misconduct penalty likely had more to do with getting him off the ice and ending the lunacy before it got too far out of control, more so than it was about any sort of real misconduct.

Without the misconduct penalty, the league isn't going to step in and say, "Nope, that was deliberate, five games." As suspension crazed as the league is, they have to admit that sometimes, things just happen. THis is oneof those things.

Linesmen have the responsibility to break up fist fights. This isn't the first time one of them has taken a shot across the bow because of it. It also will not be the last.

The real question is, how the hell did the Wild end up shorthanded in all of this? And why were no bench penalties assessed against the Canucks for reaching off the boards to help out? Oh well.

Please, can this go away now? It was an accident. The refs think so, everyone in hockey thinks so. It's time to let it go.

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